Boomkat Product Review:
Remastered and finally available officially, 'Mother is the Milky Way' is Broadcast's rare-as-you-like final release, a spellbinding set of cut-n-paste Radiophonic bleeps, movie snippets, music box eccentrics, snatched vocals and overdriven drum machine loops.
Broadcast were on tour in Australia just before Christmas 2010, when Trish Keenan contracted the H1N1 virus and was hospitalized; she died shortly afterwards from pneumonia. This tragic incident was the end of Broadcast, by then a duo of Keenan and longtime bassist James Cargill, and while the soundtrack to Peter Strickland's "Berberian Sound Studio" emerged later, "Mother is the Milky Way" is the last release that Keenan fully oversaw. Unlike 2005's "Tender Buttons", "Mother is the Milky Way" leans wholeheartedly into spectral folk and occult weirdness - it has more stylistically in common with "Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age", or Keenan's lesser-heard folk project Hayward Winters.
Here, Keenan's long held obsession with Czech New Wave movie soundtracks (think Luboš Fišer's spring-loaded accompaniment to "Valerie and her Week of Wonders", or the bizarre experimental collage of Vera Chytilova's "Daisies") bubbles to the forefront. On opening track 'Creation Day The Travel Flute Way', splattered electronics and childlike recorder bleats are paired with chirpy field recordings that ooze into the grotty machine folk of 'In Here The World Begins'. 'Elegant Elephant' is even more affecting, stripping away the layers to leave Keenan's reverberating voice, a gently twanging guitar, and plodding synthesizer that sounds as if it's been pinched from an Oliver Postgate show. There's a surreal nursery rhyme quality to all this material, sounding as if Keenan's surrealist obsessions are swirled in a vortex of Grimm fairy tales and Alice in Wonderland abstraction.
Voices trap in marbled reflecting pools on 'Milling Around the Village', stop-starting against cheap guitar loops and farmyard sounds; 'The Aphid Sleeps' washes out further, all ghostly soft vocal echoes over dissonant clarinet bursts and tape delay vortexes. From beginning to end, the mini-album sounds like a privileged peek into Keenan's sketchpad - it's a personal and moving set that's all the more resonant now as it stands as Broadcast's final release. Originally issued as a limited edition tour CD of only 750 copies, it's been remastered from the original tapes and sounds crisper than ever.